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Home News RCMP say keys left inside vehicle in 29 per cent of thefts reported in 2021

RCMP say keys left inside vehicle in 29 per cent of thefts reported in 2021

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RCMP say keys left inside vehicle in 29 per cent of thefts reported in 2021
Traffic winds it way through Prince Albert in this file photo from 2015. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Roughly 29 per cent of all vehicle thefts reported to the Saskatchewan RCMP last year involved vehicles whose owners had left the keys inside.

RCMP reported 1,519 vehicle theft files in their jurisdiction between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, an average of more than 100 per month. This list includes cars, trucks, SUVs, ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, tractors and skid steers. Some files included more than one vehicle reported stolen.

“Some vehicles may be left running with keys inside as people warm them up and leave them to enter their home or a store for a brief movement,” reads an RCMP press release. “(They) return to find their vehicle gone.”

RCMP advise residents to take their keys with them whenever they leave their vehicle. Officers say hiding your keys inside is just as risky as leaving them in the ignition.

“With today’s push button start key fobs, the thief doesn’t even have to locate keys to steal your vehicle,” the RCMP statement reads. “Even if a key is needed, there are only so many hiding places in or on a vehicle and the thief is likely to find it.”

RCMP added that the same risks apply to commercial vehicles like semis and farm tractors as it does to personal vehicles.

Sgt. Scott Hunter of the Saskatchewan RCMP Crime Prevention and Reduction Unit said thieves often use stolen vehicles to commit other crimes, so taking your keys with you protects more than just vehicle owners.

“Our Crime Analysts are able to sort through the data we receive when people report crimes such as these vehicle thefts and are able to track criminal activities and trends this way,” Hunter said. “This intelligence-based information tells us that some stolen vehicles are additionally used in the commission of other crimes including break and enters, dangerous driving and flight from police. So vehicle thefts sometimes end up being more than just vehicle thefts.”

RCMP advise residents to remove keys and other valuable items from their vehicles whenever possible, including tools, bank cards, and personal identification. All of these things can lead to additional criminal activity.

This includes leaving keys in a vehicle when out of fuel on the side of the road. Police have reported instances where someone will stop by with a jerry can of fuel and drive off with the vehicle.

Roughly 72 per cent of all vehicles reported stolen to the RCMP were eventually recovered. Vehicle recovery times run from a few minutes to several months later.

Police recovered 368 stolen vehicles that were damaged in some way after being stolen. That includes vehicles that were burned, stripped of parts, or involved in a collision.

Smaller vehicles like ATVs and motorcycles had a lower rate of recovery that personal vehicles like trucks and SUVs.